[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Eph receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and their ligands, ephrins, play critical roles in development, tissue homeostasis, and cancer. Because Eph receptors are expressed in most adult stem cell niches and in many types of cancers, it has been long suspected that this family of RTKs may also regulate the function of cancer stem-like cells (CSCs). This review will focus on recent studies to elucidate the contribution of Eph/ephrin molecules in CSC self-renewal and tumorigenicity, as well as describe efforts to target these molecules in cancer. Because CSCs are often resistant to therapeutic intervention and have been shown to depend on Eph RTKs for self-renewal, targeting Eph receptors may hold promise for the treatment of drug-resistant cancers.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent genome-wide analyses in human lung cancer revealed that EPHA2 receptor tyrosine kinase is overexpressed in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and high levels of EPHA2 correlate with poor clinical outcome. However, the mechanistic basis for EPHA2-mediated tumor promotion in lung cancer remains poorly understood. Here we show that the JNK/c-JUN signaling mediates EPHA2-dependent tumor cell proliferation and motility. A screen of phospho-kinase arrays revealed a decrease in phospho-c-JUN levels in EPHA2 knockdown cells. Knockdown of EPHA2 inhibited p-JNK and p-c-JUN levels in approximately 50% of NSCLC lines tested. Treatment of parental cells with SP600125, a JNK inhibitor, recapitulated defects in EPHA2-deficient tumor cells; whereas constitutively activated JNK mutants were sufficient to rescue phenotypes. Knockdown of EPHA2 also inhibited tumor formation and progression in xenograft animal models in vivo. Furthermore, we investigated the role of EPHA2 in cancer stem-like cells. RNAi-mediated depletion of EPHA2 in multiple NSCLC lines decreased the ALDH positive cancer stem-like population and tumor spheroid formation in suspension. Depletion of EPHA2 in sorted ALDH positive populations markedly inhibited tumorigenicity in nude mice. Furthermore, analysis of a human lung cancer tissue microarray revealed a significant, positive association between EPHA2 and ALDH expression, indicating an important role for EPHA2 in human lung cancer stem-like cells. Collectively, these studies revealed a critical role of JNK signaling in EPHA2-dependent lung cancer cell proliferation and motility and a role for EPHA2 in cancer stem-like cell function, providing evidence for EPHA2 as a potential therapeutic target in NSCLC.
Cancer Research 03/2014; 74(9). DOI:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-13-2136 · 9.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: VAPB (VAMP- associated protein B) is an ER protein that regulates multiple biological functions. Although aberrant expression of VAPB is associated with breast cancer, its function in tumor cells is poorly understood. In this report, we provide evidence that VAPB regulates breast tumor cell proliferation and AKT activation. VAPB protein expression is elevated in primary and metastatic tumor specimens, and VAPB mRNA expression levels correlated negatively with patient survival in two large breast tumor datasets. Overexpression of VAPB in mammary epithelial cells increased cell growth, whereas VAPB knockdown in tumor cells inhibited cell proliferation in vitro and suppressed tumor growth in orthotopic mammary gland allografts. The growth regulation of mammary tumor cells controlled by VAPB appears to be mediated, at least in part, by modulation of AKT activity. Overexpression of VAPB in MCF10A-HER2 cells enhances phosphorylation of AKT. In contrast, knockdown of VAPB in MMTV-Neu tumor cells inhibited pAKT levels. Pharmacological inhibition of AKT significantly reduced three-dimensional spheroid growth induced by VAPB. Collectively, the genetic, functional and mechanistic analyses suggest a role of VAPB in tumor promotion in human breast cancer.
PLoS ONE 10/2012; 7(10):e46281. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0046281 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cancer genome sequencing efforts recently identified EPHA3, which encodes the EPHA3 receptor tyrosine kinase, as one of the most frequently mutated genes in lung cancer. Although receptor tyrosine kinase mutations often drive oncogenic conversion and tumorigenesis, the oncogenic potential of the EPHA3 mutations in lung cancer remains unknown.
We used immunoprecipitation, western blotting, and kinase assays to determine the activity and signaling of mutant EPHA3 receptors. A mutation-associated gene signature was generated from one large dataset, mapped to another training dataset with survival information, and tested in a third independent dataset. EPHA3 expression levels were determined by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction in paired normal-tumor clinical specimens and by immunohistochemistry in human lung cancer tissue microarrays. We assessed tumor growth in vivo using A549 and H1299 human lung carcinoma cell xenografts in mice (n = 7-8 mice per group). Tumor cell proliferation was measured by bromodeoxyuridine incorporation and apoptosis by multiple assays. All P values are from two-sided tests.
At least two cancer-associated EPHA3 somatic mutations functioned as dominant inhibitors of the normal (wild type) EPHA3 protein. An EPHA3 mutation-associated gene signature that was associated with poor patient survival was identified. Moreover, EPHA3 gene copy numbers and/or expression levels were decreased in tumors from large cohorts of patients with lung cancer (eg, the gene was deleted in 157 of 371 [42%] primary lung adenocarcinomas). Reexpression of wild-type EPHA3 in human lung cancer lines increased apoptosis by suppression of AKT activation in vitro and inhibited the growth of tumor xenografts (eg, for H1299 cells, mean tumor volume with wild-type EPHA3 = 437.4 mm(3) vs control = 774.7 mm(3), P < .001). Tumor-suppressive effects of wild-type EPHA3 could be overridden in trans by dominant negative EPHA3 somatic mutations discovered in patients with lung cancer.
Cancer-associated EPHA3 mutations attenuate the tumor-suppressive effects of normal EPHA3 in lung cancer.
Journal of the National Cancer Institute 07/2012; 104(15):1182-97. DOI:10.1093/jnci/djs297 · 12.58 Impact Factor